How Do You Play Pickleball Singles?

Pickleball is a fun and fast-growing sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis which can played as singles or doubles. Curious about how to elevate your game in the fast-paced world of pickleball singles? If you’ve ever wondered, “How do you play pickleball singles?” you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we are going to discuss the basics of pickleball singles and some essential strategies on how to play pickleball singles.

How Do You Play Pickleball Singles?

Understanding the Basics of Pickleball Singles

Let’s delve into the key aspects of understanding the basics of pickleball singles in detail:

Court Dimensions:

A pickleball singles court is the same size as a doubles court, measuring 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. The court is divided into two service courts and a non-volley zone, commonly known as the “kitchen.”

Scoring System:

The scoring in singles pickleball follows the same rules as doubles. Games are typically played to 11 points, and a team must win by at least two points. Points can only be scored by the serving team.

Serving Order:

The server starts from the right-hand service court and serves diagonally to the opponent’s service court. The server must keep one foot behind the baseline and within the confines of the service area. The serve must clear the net and land in the opponent’s service court.

Double Bounce Rule:

Similar to doubles play, the double bounce rule applies in singles. Both players must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before attempting to volley. After the initial two bounces, the ball can be volleyed (hit without bouncing) by either player.

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Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) Rules:

Players are not allowed to volley the ball (hit it without letting it bounce) while standing within the non-volley zone, which extends 7 feet from the net on both sides. However, they can enter the NVZ to play a ball that has bounced.

Faults and Let Calls:

Faults in singles pickleball include serving out of bounds, failing to clear the net, and stepping into the non-volley zone while volleying. Let calls may be made in the case of an interrupted point, such as a stray ball entering the court.

Change of Ends:

Players switch sides after each game and when the total points reach a multiple of 6 in the third game (if applicable). This helps to ensure fair playing conditions, especially considering the potential impact of sun, wind, or other environmental factors.

Winning the Match:

A singles match is typically played as the best of three games. The player or team that first reaches 11 points (winning by at least two points) wins a game. If a third game is needed, it’s played to 15 points.

Strategies on How to Play Pickleball Singles

Certainly! Here’s a detailed exploration of strategies for playing pickleball singles:

Court Positioning:

In singles, effective court positioning is crucial. Aim to control the middle of the court, positioning yourself strategically to minimize the distance you need to cover. This central position allows you to respond quickly to shots directed to either side.

Serve Placement:

Work on varying your serves to keep your opponent guessing. Experiment with different placements, such as deep serves to push your opponent back, short serves to force them to move forward quickly, and serves to the corners to create angles.

Aggressive Net Play:

Controlling the net is a key strategy in singles pickleball. Be ready to move to the non-volley zone line when appropriate, and look for opportunities to hit aggressive shots. A well-timed drop shot or a powerful smash can put your opponent on the defensive.

How to play pickleball singles

Efficient Footwork:

Singles pickleball play demands quick and efficient footwork. Work on your lateral movement to cover the court effectively. Being able to change direction rapidly and maintain a good balance will give you a significant advantage.

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Stay adaptable during the match. Assess your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and adjust your game accordingly. If your opponent is struggling with a particular shot, exploit that weakness. If they are strong in a certain area, be prepared to defend and counter effectively.

Smart Shot Selection:

Develop a diverse range of shots to keep your opponent off balance. Incorporate dinks, lobs, and drives into your game. Varying your shot selection will make it challenging for your opponent to predict your next move.

Fitness and Endurance:

Singles play can be physically demanding, requiring endurance and agility. Incorporate fitness training into your routine to build stamina and ensure that you can maintain a high level of performance throughout the match.

Strategic Lobbing:

Well-timed lobs can be effective in singles, especially when your opponent is positioned close to the net. A carefully executed lob can force them to retreat, giving you an opportunity to take control of the point.

Mindset and Mental Toughness:

Singles play can be mentally challenging. Stay focused on each point, and develop mental toughness to handle pressure situations. Keep a positive mindset, learn from mistakes, and maintain confidence in your abilities.

Study Opponent Patterns:

Pay attention to your opponent’s playing style and patterns. Notice if they have a preferred shot or a weak side. Adjust your strategy based on these observations to exploit weaknesses and capitalize on opportunities.

Consistent Placement:

Aim for consistent shot placement. Hitting the ball consistently to specific areas of the court can force your opponent into making errors. Work on precision and accuracy to control the pace of the game.

Stay Patient:

Patience is a virtue in singles pickleball. Wait for the right opportunities to attack and avoid unnecessary risks. A patient approach can lead to more controlled and strategic gameplay.


In conclusion, mastering how to play pickleball singles is an exciting journey that involves a blend of understanding the fundamental rules and implementing effective strategies on the court. By grasping the basics, such as court dimensions, scoring systems, and serving orders, players can lay a strong foundation for their singles game. As highlighted in the strategies section, court positioning, smart shot selection, and adaptability play pivotal roles in achieving success in singles play.

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So, the next time you step onto the pickleball court, keep in mind how each aspect contributes to your overall performance. Embrace the challenge, refine your skills, and enjoy the unique dynamics of one-on-one competition. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a novice, the question remains: How do you play pickleball singles? The answer lies in a combination of knowledge, skill, and a passion for the game.

FAQs: How Do You Play Pickleball Singles?

Is the double bounce rule applicable in singles play?

Yes, similar to doubles, both players in singles must allow the ball to bounce once on each side before attempting to volley. After the initial two bounces, the ball can be volleyed.

How is a singles match typically decided?

In singles pickleball, a match is typically decided through the best of three games. The first player to reach 11 points, with a winning margin of at least two points, wins a game. If necessary, a third game is played to 15 points to determine the overall winner of the singles match.

Why is aggressive net play important in singles?

Aggressive net play in singles is crucial as it puts pressure on your opponent and controls the tempo of the game. By moving close to the net, you limit your opponent’s response time, making it challenging for them to counter effectively. Well-timed drop shots and powerful smashes during aggressive net play can force your opponent into defensive positions, giving you the opportunity to dictate the point.

How do you play pickleball singles?

In pickleball singles, players compete one-on-one on a court with the same dimensions as a doubles court. The game follows the standard scoring rules, played to 11 points (winning by at least two). The server starts from the right-hand service court, and effective court positioning, varied serves, and adaptability are key strategies for success in singles play.

What are the dimensions of a pickleball singles court?

A pickleball singles court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long, the same size as a doubles court. It includes two service courts and a non-volley zone (kitchen).